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Music in the Highlands is divided into two types, each known in Gaelic as Ceol Mor for Great Music and Ceol Beag for small music. As the Highland Bagpipes are Piob Mhor and a piper is Piobaire, Piobaireachd in Gaelic simply means piping. But in the course of time Piobaireachd (pronounced pee-brok) has come to stand for the great classical music of the Bagpipes.

Piobaireachd is not easy to define or sometimes to describe. The basic structure consists of an air with variations on the theme. The ground is the basic theme and is normally played slowly and is often the most interesting part of the music. Some grounds are made up of short repeat phrases while others are free flowing, but most are based on the pentatonic scale. Often the ground is followed by variations that are always simple and increase in complexity with each more difficult to play than the previous.

Each piobaireachd tune was composed for a particular purpose. Some recent studies have broken piobaireachd down into the following types; Gatherings, Marches, Laments, Salutes and other titled tunes.

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